DHS Redesignates Syria for TPS

Temporary Protected Status (TPS)On August 1, 2016, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, redesignated Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) [see USCIS news release]. The redesignation was posted to the Federal Register [see 81 FR 50533]. Please see our full article on TPS to learn about applying for TPS and being on TPS [see article].

Syria's existing TPS designation has been extended from October 1, 2016, to March 31, 2018. Accordingly, eligible nationals of Syria and persons of no nationality who last habitually resided in Syria will be eligible to register or reregister for TPS during periods found in the Federal Register notice.

Re-Registrants

In 81 FR 50537, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) states that there are approximately 5,800 current Syrian TPS beneficiaries who are expected to apply for re-registration and who may be eligible to retain TPS under the extension of TPS for Syria. In order to extend TPS, current Syrian TPS beneficiaries must re-register during the 60-day re-registration period from August 1, 2016, to September 30, 2016. TPS re-registrants will be eligible to apply for new Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) with expiration dates of March 31, 2018. Because the USCIS “recognizes that some re-registrants may not receive their new EADs until after their current work permits expire,” the USCIS will automatically extend current TPS EADs with September 30, 2016 expiration dates through March 31, 2017.

First-Time Applicants

At 81 FR 50537, the DHS estimates that an additional 2,500 individuals who did not procure TPS during the initial registration period for Syrian TPS may be eligible to file applications for TPS under the redesignation of Syria. In order to be eligible, the person must:

  • Be a Syrian national or person without nationality who last habitually resided in Syria;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since August 1, 2016; and
  • Have been continuously physically present in the United States since October 1, 2016.

Provided that the person meets the above requirements, he or she must apply for TPS during the 180-day initial registration period that runs from August 1, 2016, through January 30, 2016.

Required Forms for First-Time Applicants and Re-Registrants

In order to re-register or register for TPS, applicants must submit the following documentation:

  • Form I-821, Application for Temporary Protected Status (no fee required for re-registration applicants);
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (must be filed regardless of whether the re-registrant is seeking an EAD); and
  • The biometric services fee (or a Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver) if the applicant is 14 years of age or older.

Fee Waiver Denials

81 FR 50538 explains that if a first-time applicant for TPS files a Form I-912 fee waiver request and the request is denied, he or she may re-file the application packet before the initial filing deadline of January 30, 2017. If the applicant receives a fee waiver denial within 45 days of January 30, 2016, he or she will have 45 days from the date of the denial to resubmit the application packet with the requisite fees. The applicant may opt to not seek employment authorization and not pay the requisite fee for an EAD request, and he or she may hen subsequently pay the fee and apply for Employment Authorization after being granted TPS. However, if the fee waiver is denied, the applicant must pay the requisite fees for the Form I-821 and the biometric services fee.

81 FR 50538 explains that re-registrants are encouraged to file for re-registration as soon as possible within the 60-day re-registration period in order to allow the USCIS to process the applications and EADs expeditiously. If the applicant's request for a fee-waiver is denied, he or she should attempt to re-file the application packet with the required fees in advance of the deadline. In certain cases, an application may be accepted after the deadline if the applicant had his or her request for a fee-waiver denied. The USCIS will review late applications on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the applicant established good cause for the late filing. In general, USCIS urges applicants to file within 45 days of the denial, at the latest.

Persons with Pending Applications

The DHS explains at 81 FR 50537 that if an applicant for TPS from Syria has a pending TPS application as of August 1, 2016 (from the initial registration period [see blog] that ran from January 5, 2015, through July 6, 2015), he or she will not need to file a new Form I-821 application for TPS. If the application is approved, the applicant will be granted TPS through March 31, 2018, along with an EAD that will be valid through the same date. However, such persons who currently have TPS-related EADs and want new EADs will be required to submit certain documentation. The Federal Register notice includes the following table that explains the rules for whether such applicants need to file a new EAD application:

If… And… Then…
You requested an EAD during the previous initial registration periods for Syria TPS You received an EAD with Category C19 or A12 You must file a new Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) with fee (or fee waiver request) if you wish to have a new EAD valid through March 31, 2018.
  You did not receive an EAD with Category C19 or A12 You do not need to file a new Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765). If your TPS application is approved, your Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) will be approved through March 31, 2018.
You did not request an EAD during the previous initial registration period for Syria TPS You wish to have an EAD valid through March 31, 2018 You must file a new Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) with fee (or fee waiver request).
  You do not wish to have an EAD valid through March 31, 2018 You do not need to file a new Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765).

Where to File Forms

The following chart, reproduced from 81 FR 50538, shows where applicants should file their application packets for TPS:

If… Mail to…
You are applying through the U.S. Postal Service USCIS, Attn: TPS Syria, P.O. Box 6943, Chicago, IL 60680-6943.
You are using a non-U.S. Postal Service delivery service USCIS, Attn: TPS Syria, 131 S. Dearborn 3rd Floor, Chicago, IL 60603-5517.

 

The DHS explains that if the applicant was granted TPS by an Immigration Judge (IJ) or by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), he or she should consult the above table if requesting an EAD or re-registering for the first time following the grant of TPS by an IJ or by the BIA. The applicant should include a copy of the IJ or BIA order granting TPS along with the application.

Conclusion

First-time Syrian applicants for TPS and re-registrants should act quickly to secure their TPS in the United States through 2018. Applicants are well advised to consult with an experienced immigration attorney for assistance through the filing process and for guidance on immigration issues regarding TPS. In addition to our main article on TPS (see link in the opening paragraph), we have the following articles on TPS for your reference:

  • Dual-Nationality and TPS [see article]; and
  • Maintaining Other Nonimmigrant Status While Using TPS-Related EAD [see article].